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It is hard to fathom what the motivation for Jean Thissen’s decision would be. He takes on the job as national team coach of Togo just over two weeks before the resumption of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers and with the very real prospect of having to do without his best player.
Thissen is the third new coach to take over at the helm of a side who are still in the World Cup race and set out at the end of this month on the final leg of the fight for one of the five berths for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
The 63-year-old, who is a former Belgian international and has coached in Gabon, Morocco and Tunisia, parachutes in to take charge of Togo’s team after Frenchman Henri Stambouli walked out last year.
But talk of taking on the virtually impossible. ‘Les Eperviers’ (the sparrowhawks) have the most daunting start to their Group A campaign, starting on March 28 against Cameroon on neutral territory in Accra where Togo are forced to play their home matches because of a ban on their own stadium in Lome.